Future-focused changemakers have been awarded for their drive and determination to tackle a growing food industry challenge at the inaugural Gulfood Zero Waste Awards, launched at Gulfood 2022, the 27th edition and ‘first sustainable edition’ of the world’s largest annual F&B sourcing event, at Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC).
The zero-waste heroes, including global hospitality leaders, local schools, and homegrown change movements, were crowned as part of Gulfood’s drive to transform agenda to action. to latest data from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO), one third of the world’s food produced for human consumption is wasted annually – approximately 1.3 billion tons according per year.
UAE-based EroeGo, which is currently making waves in promoting the beauty of ‘ugly’ fruit and vegetables, impressed judges in the ‘Zero Waste Changemakers’ category, for its fast and efficient methods in reclaiming mis-shaped fruits and vegetables discarded by producers and delivering them to customers at a discount.
“Gulfood is a massive show. Seeing so many people come together under one umbrella to talk about sustainable food and how we can do better to ensure society is practicing zero waste is so impressive. I am excited to receive this award for the team. Being able to reclaim food is huge as it is a social issue,” said Daniel Solomon, Founder, EroeGo. “Sustainability is not just a trend; it is part of who we are and our everyday conversations as individuals. Living healthier and being conscious of what we put in our bodies is crucial. This is only the beginning; education is needed to ensure sustainability is put into practice.”
Dubai’s forward-thinking Arbor School won the ‘Community Collaboration’ award for its dedication to promoting sustainable living in society. Throughout the year, the school offers a variety of highly engaging community programs for its children and parents, with a focus on educating and instilling a sense of responsibility towards the environment and food sustainability. The masterclasses include everything from pickling, preserving, and fermenting, to vegan cooking, upcycling, and seed starter courses.
Multinational hospitality leader Hilton, which has a portfolio of more than 6,100 properties worldwide, was honored with the ‘Growing Movement’ award for its recently announced ‘Travel with Purpose 2030’ goals, which aims to reduce waste output in managed operations by 50%, and food waste sent to landfill by 50%.
Ahmad Kasdi, Executive Chef at Hilton Ras Al Khaimah Resort & Spa, said: “’Travel with Purpose’ ensures that when staying at our hotels, you will be using sustainable, zero-waste products. We also recently signed a partnership with Fresh on Table to exclusively source 19 ingredients from local farms. We are proud that the initiatives we have introduced have made a mark on the UAE’s hospitality industry.
“This wonderful award is for all the chefs and our team leader. Hilton is a global company that has always supported the movement of zero waste, and we continuously work towards practicing sustainability in our operations.”
Meanwhile, the ‘Most Impact Initiative’ award went to The Dubai Oyster Project, a joint initiative between UAE entrepreneur Fadi Abu Ghali, The Maine New England Brasserie Co, Arbor School, and the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG).
The project rehabilitates reef systems off the coast of Dubai using discarded oyster shells from The Maine’s three outlets. The shells are donated to the Arbor School where children, their families, and school personnel transform the shells into a natural reef for the EMEG reserve near Ghantout.
Omar Shihab, General Manager of BOCA, was named ‘Zero Waste Hero’ for his unwavering commitment to the cause. He has pioneered several projects as the creative mind behind the region’s best sustainable restaurant, including reusing glass bottles and corks at the restaurant, conserving cooking oil to be turned into biodiesel, collaborating with local artists to create unique local produce art pieces with Jameel Arts Center , and more.
In line with the overarching aim of the Awards to tackle waste, the winners each had a gaf tree planted in their honor in the Jebel Ali desert instead of receiving a trophy.
Gulfood is a precursor to the much-anticipated Food For Future Summit and Global Agtech Innovation Expo, which run from 23 – 24 February at Dubai Exhibition Centre.